BLACKBURN Rovers were punished for another slow start as they suffered a fourth consecutive league defeat at Barnsley.

Sam Winnall puts the hosts in front after 14 minutes with Marley Watkins making the game safe in injury time.

It leaves Rovers entrenched in the Championship bottom three at the halfway mark of the season.

And the result was compounded by a straight red card for Darragh Lenihan three minutes from the end for a poorly timed tackle in the centre of the pitch.

There were also angry scenes at the final whistle as Rovers fans vented their frustrations towards manager Owen Coyle as he made his way down the tunnel in front of the away end.

Rovers made two changes for the game, with Charlie Mulgrew returning from injury to replace the suspended Jason Lowe in central midfield, while Ryan Nyambe came in for the injured Ben Marshall at right-back.

A Rovers defence that had shipped nine goals in three games coming in to this one were under pressure from the first whistle.

Tom Bradshaw had three good chances inside the opening 10 minutes to give his side the lead as Barnsley started the stronger.

A minute wasn’t even on the watch when Bradshaw flashed an effort over on the half-turn, before heading wide in the ninth minute, moments after he forced a good save out of Jason Steele after finding a way past Wes Brown.

But it wasn’t long before Rovers found themselves behind in the opening stages of a game for the fifth time in six. Here they held out for 14 minutes before Winnall was given the freedom of the six yard box to head home Conor Hourihane’s inswinging cross.

Lethargic and sluggish, Rovers simply weren’t at the races in the opening quarter, with the loud boos from the away end signalling the fans’ frustration. The travelling supporters had to wait until the 25th minute to see any sign of life as an attacking force from their side when Marvin Emnes saw a half-volley excellently tipped over by a flying Adam Davies.

As expected from a team with the second best attack, and fifth worst defence, in the league going in to the game, Barnsley were a threat going forward but less than watertight at the back.

Defender Brown was a denied a second Rovers goal by an excellent point-blank save from Davies on the half hour while the productivity continued two minutes later as Sam Gallagher was denied by Davies after good work down the right from Nyambe.

Both sides had chances to score before the break. Andy Yiadom saw an effort go just wide for Barnsley, while Mulgrew’s header was cleared off the line for Rovers.

A poor start to the second half almost saw Rovers fall further behind, but after Craig Conway and Derrick Williams got in a mix-up Barnsley wasted a two-on-one opportunity as Hourihane overhit his pass and the chance passed.

Hourihane was guilty of wasting another excellent opportunity, this time finding himself clean through only to fire over on the counter-attack.

The opening 20 minutes of the second half passed without any real opportunities for Rovers, who had a switch in midfield with Corry Evans coming on.

The Northern Irishman almost made an immediate impact when he nearly punished Davies for a poor kick. Evans tried to catch him off his line from 40 yards only to see his effort hit the bar before the keeper was quickly up to deny Emnes.

Steele denied Hourihane at the other end with a smart stop as Barnsley tried to make the game safe, while Bradshaw found the side netting with his effort nine minutes from time.

Lenihan then saw red in the closing stages to make Rovers’ task even harder although Emnes fired over in injury time, while Gallagher went through one-on-one only to be denied by Davies.

But it was Barnsley who had the last word when substitute Watkins raced clear before slotting beyond Steele to seal the points for the home side.